Forests Minister Prepares for Wildfire Season

John Crawford

After two straight years of record-breaking wildfire seasons, the BC Government is beefing up its fire prevention strategies, programs and funding, in advance of the upcoming season.

In Kamloops Tuesday morning, Forests Minister Doug Donaldson announced the province was increasing its wildfire spending for 2019 by 58 per cent -- to 101-million dollars annually -- and is also accelerating its prevention and awareness programs.


The images of the flames burning through the province's forests are burned in people's memories -- and  Donaldson says the lessons learned will be applied this year -- not only to fighting the fires but trying to reduce the risk to communities -- and that means working with those communities and First Nations on joint strategies.

"We're strengthening partnerships with First Nations, including providing more training opportunities for Type Two and Type Three crews, and incorporating that local knowledge into our fire fighting efforts; we're strengthening partnerships with communities, hosting community round tables in communities that face higher wildfire risks, and we're strengthening partnerships with the forest industry, both on procuring contract crews and supplementing training," he said.

The province is also investing in technology, such as night vision goggles to better aid in early detection  and response. 

The province has also been looking into technology regarding water delivery systems -- especially after frustrated residents from the South Side of Francois Lake complained trucks carrying water systems were being sent away.

"It took experimenting to find out which is the best system to be used; we actually did deploy our mass water delivery systems in combating the fires and actually protecting structures during the season south of Burns Lake, so the technological advances will focus not just on that aspect but we have a pretty good handle now on the best systems for mass water delivery."

Donaldson says both the Northwest and Prince George Fire Centres are adding additional initial attack crews in remote locations.

He also says money from the Forest Carbon Initiative is being used for reforestation and restoration initiatives that help reduce wildfire risks and capture carbon.

And he promised more announcements will come, as the new wildfire season approaches.

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